‘Mindless eating’ causes us to eat 43 per cent more food than we should
26 March 2013
While we may think we are eating healthily, research suggests that many of us are mindlessly over-eating and consuming a mountain of food every year.
The research commissioned by Weight Watchers reveals that Brits are consuming 43 per cent more food than they should.
The study found that the average person is consuming 1,270kg each year – which is the equivalent of a whole football team or 14 baby elephants, and which is 384kg more than we need.
‘Fatty spreads’ were found to be the biggest source of overconsumption, with the average Brit consuming seven times more than is recommended.
The research also found that we eat almost four times the amount of meat we should, more than double the amount of bread and three times as many cakes and biscuits.
According to Zoe Hellman, Head of Public Health, Weight Watchers, this overconsumption is a common feature of today’s “food laden environment”, which makes it difficult for many of us to make healthier choices.
She said: “The current epidemic of over-eating is hugely influenced by today's overloaded food environment.
“With the increased popularity of coffee shop culture and eating on the go it seems that, everywhere you turn, there is yet another place you can buy food, cooked and ready to eat.”
The researchers believe that today’s food-based culture and the increase in portion sizes combine to create a process of “mindless eating” where people are unaware of many food choices they make every day.
To cut back on mindless snacking, here are some common diet saboteurs and how you can avoid them:
Problem: With all the tempting treats on offer, a trip to the cinema can be a real diet-breaker unless you are blessed with strong willpower. While air-popped popcorn is a great nutritious and diet-friendly snack, when butter and sugar are added into the equation, the tasty snack can quickly lose its healthy credentials and cinema popcorn can be extremely high in fat and calories.
Solution: Try sneaking in a healthier low-calorie packet of savoury popcorn, or go for a small portion of salted popcorn and share with a friend. Alternatively, take some dried fruit crisps for a crunchy snack without the fat and calories.
Problem: Whether you’re hankering after birthday cake in the kitchen, being tempted by refreshments at staff meetings, attending fancy business lunches or being inundated with edible gifts from grateful patients or parents, your workplace can be a source of constant food temptation, and there can be a lot of peer pressure to indulge.
Solution: Bring in some healthy snacks to leave in the kitchen for next time you are tempted to indulge, or ask in work about the possibility of getting a fruit delivery for you and your colleagues to snack on at your desks and in meetings. Also, make it clear to your colleagues that you are eating healthily – after a few attempts they will most likely give up trying to persuade you to cave in.
Problem: Meeting a friend for a coffee may seem like a healthier option than getting together for lunch or an evening meal. However, even if you manage to resist the tempting cakes and treats on offer, many speciality coffees are rich in cream, whole milk and syrups and can contain as many calories as a dessert.
Solution: Ditch the whipped cream and swap rich and sugary coffees for skinny lattes, espressos and cappuccino made with skimmed milk. While these may not seem as appetising as your usual beverage, your waistline will be eternally grateful!